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group—on horseback, erect, unmoved amid the throng of retreating, defeated, and well-nigh wornout soldiers—sat a man born to command, by birth and education a soldier of high degree, competent to evolve order out of the chaos of retreat, cool, calm, self-possessed, the master of himself and his place. I rode up to him and, saluting, reported with the battery with which I was serving. Turning quickly to his right and rear, and pointing to the knoll on the northwestern slope of Culp's Hill, he said: ' Do you see that hill, young man? Put your battery there and stay there.' I shall never forget the inspiration of his commanding, controlling presence or the fresh courage he imparted, his whole atmosphere strong and invigorating. And I remember (how refreshing to note!) even his linen clean and white, his collar wide and free, and his broad wristbands showing large and rolling back from his firm, finely molded hands."
Among the remaining officers of the First Corps, Colonel Morgan's manuscript narrative particularly mentions General Wadsworth for his undaunted spirit and his eagerness to renew the fight. General G. K. Warren, then Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac, was also upon the field and rendered invaluable service in posting the troops and the batteries. At half-past four Hancock dispatched his senior aid, Major Mitchell, with word to Meade that Gettysburg offered a suitable position for defense, though somewhat exposed to be turned by the left. An hour had sufficed to make a great change within the Union lines; a vastly greater change as seen from the enemy's ground. Though not a man besides Hancock and his staff had come upon the field since Seminary Ridge was lost, Lee hesitated to give the order to attack positions, naturally strong, which appeared to have been suddenly occupied by fresh troops, so brave was the show of force everywhere made. He instructed Ewell to feel our line on its right, but not to bring on a general engagement. That delay saved the field of Gettysburg to the Union arms.
At half-past five re-enforcements began to arrive. These were from Slocum's Twelfth Corps. The First Division, that of Williams, turned to the right on approaching the field, and went into position near Wolf's Hill. The Second Division, that of Geary, Hancock directed to prolong our line to the left, towards the Round Tops. Slocum himself coming up, Hancock turned over the command of the field to him, as senior in rank, and rode off to confer with General Meade. About three miles away he met his own corps, which he halted that it might be available against any movement by the enemy to turn our left flank. Sickles's column meanwhile was arriving at Gettysburg, and the position was for the time secure. All night, however, the good troops of the Fifth and Sixth Corps were pressing forward in ghostly columns toward the battlefield in a long, unstaying march.
Such were Hancock's services on the memorable first day at Gettysburg. Two points require to be emphasized further than they have been in the course of this narrative. The first was Hancock's keen perception of the danger of a Confederate movement around our left. To the other officers who overlooked the field on the afternoon of the 1st of July it seemed that Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill were especially likely to be the points of attack. Meade himself, coming up during the night, was so impressed with the same idea that he gave little or no attention, then or in the morning, to the left. But Hancock's first message pointed out the danger of a movement by the enemy in this direction which was so painfully manifested on the following day. The first use he made of the re-enforcements arriving on the field was to send them southward, two of Geary's regiments actually passing the night at Little Round Top, though called away the next morning without being replaced. And, on Hancock's return to general headquarters, he halted the Second Corps on the Taneytown road.
The second point to be further insisted on is Hancock's relations to Howard. I have given the text of the instructions under which Hancock went up to Gettysburg; and no one who knew aught of that officer should need to be assured that, if ordered to take command of any force, he took command of it with all which that implies, and fully exercised the authority given him until he formally relinquished it to some one who had the right to receive it. Yet, in an article in the Atlantic Monthly of July, 1876, General Howard sought to make out that Hancock did not assume command upon his arrival at Cemetery Hill, but merely acted as a sort of personal representative of, or temporary chief of staff to, General Meade. The following is his description of the meeting and what immediately followed: "General Hancock greeted me in his usual frank and cordial manner, and used these words: ' General Meade has sent me to represent him on the field.' I replied: 'All right, Hancock, this is no time for talking. You take the left of the pike and I will arrange these troops to the right!' He said no more, and moved off in his peculiar, gallant style to gather scattered brigades and put them into position. I noticed that he sent Wadsworth's division, without consulting me, to the right of the Eleventh Corps, to Culp's Hill; but as it was just the thing to do I made no objection—probably would not have made any in any event—but worked away, assisted by my officers, organizing and arranging batteries and infantry along the stone wall and fences toward Gettysburg and along the northern crest of the ridge. It did not strike me then that Hancock, without troops, was doing more than directing matters as a temporary chief of staff for Meade."
Upon this view of his relations to Hancock on the first day at Gettysburg, General Howard has insisted down to the present time. When, on the 4th of February, 1891, I had occasion to read a paper on General Hancock before the New York Commandery of the Loyal Legion, General Howard, in conversation with me, took exception to the statements I had made on this subject, and gave his own account of the 1st of July in substantially the terms of the Atlantic article. "There we were," he said, "working away just like two brothers." Now, I desire to remark, first, that if there was any officer in the Union army who was incapable of performing in the "two-brothers act," it was Winfield Scott Hancock; and, secondly, that the whole record is dead against General Howard's position. Certainly General Abner Doubleday, who succeeded to the command of the First Corps upon the death of Reynolds, was not in doubt that Hancock came to take command. In his History of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg he says: "About half-past three General Hancock arrived with orders from General Meade to supersede Howard . . . Howard stated, in a subsequent account of the battle, that he merely regarded Hancock as a staff officer acting for General Meade ... I know that he rode over to me and told me that he was in command of the field"